Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Southern Africa: Kikwete - Madagascar On Good Political Footing

THE Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Jakaya Kikwete, has praised the president of Madagascar for opting out of the forthcoming presidential elections.

Addressing a joint press conference with the President of Benin, Mr Boni Yayi, who also doubles as the African Union Chairman, President Kikwete said that Mr Andry Rajoelina's decision was bold and patriotic. He said that he (Rajoelina) had taken the decision for the sake of peace and stability for the people and country of Madagascar.

He noted that the SADC also commends former president of Madagascar Mr Marc Ravalomanana who also pledged in December, his intention not to run in the presidential elections. The former president of Madagascar was overthrown in 2009 in a coup.

"This is an example of maturity in politics and putting the interests of the public at the forefront," President Kikwete observed. He explained that the SADC leadership will work with Madagascar through the presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place in May and July this year.

Mr Kikwete noted that SADC also directed the Madagascar Parliament to enact laws that would provide immunity to President Rajoelina, former president Ravalomanana and the armed forces in Madagascar. The SADC Troika Organ met in Dar es Salaam last week where the agenda included the situation in DRC, Madagascar and Republic of Zimbabwe.

The summit chaired by the SADC Troika chairman also decided that troops would be sent to the Eastern DRC and four member countries pledged to deploy their troops. These were Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. President Yayi, who concluded his one-day state visit in the country, said heads of military forces in Africa are meeting in Bamako to discuss and plan how to deploy troops in Mali to assist Malian and French military forces in fighting Islamist rebels.

Mr Yayi said that more than 3,000 troops are ready to be deployed in Mali. "We already have troops on standby for deployment to Mali, as soon as Military heads meeting in Bamako gives a go ahead," he explained. Countries that have troops on standby for deployment to Mali include Nigeria more than 600 soldiers, Benin (300), Bukina Faso (500), Togo (500) and Senegal (500).

Mr Yayi underscored the importance of the African continent to work together in resolving conflicts afflicting African nations and to strengthen unity to avoid external influences. He commended President Kikwete, for the decision taken by the Troika in tackling the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Yayi underscored the importance for regional blocs in the continent to work together for the development of the continent and also to strengthen unity and promote peace. "I trust in the wisdom of President Kikwete in his decision to deploy troops in the Eastern DRC," he added.

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